Over a recent ten-year period, there were 30 serious reported accidents involving lawn mowers in the workplace. Two of the accidents were fatal. Conducting proper lawn mower risk assessments to make sure you’re aware of all safety hazards is essential.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also believes there were many more than 30 lawn mower safety incidents during this time. Workers simply failed to notify them.
Most businesses conducting large scale mowing operations will make use of agricultural mowers. These are used alongside a tractor. The size and weight of the equipment means that there are a lot of risks and safety hazards to be aware of.
There are two types of agricultural lawn mower referred to here: flail and rotary. These may be tractor-mounted or towed.
Lawn Mower Risk Assessments
As with any piece of agricultural machinery, an employer must conduct a lawn mower Risk Assessment to identify safety hazards.
This means identifying all potential hazards of the mower and its operation. The aim is to keep the risk of injury to a minimum.
Employers should also ensure any user of a mower follows certain principles of good practice.
Lawn Mower Safety Training
To help with these principles, mower operators should have appropriate workplace training. The training must show the correct and safe use of a mower.
Machinery makers and dealers, agricultural colleges and award schemes offer training programmes.
A useful training backup is to supply operators with a mowers instruction manual. This way, an operator can understand precisely how a mower works. A manual also has safety advice. This usually includes details of how to remove any blockages that stop a mowers efficient use.
Lawn Mower Safety Hazards
There are many safety hazards when operating a large piece of lawn mowing machinery.
Tractors making use of agricultural mowers are heavy machinery. There’s also the consideration of cutting edges and other hazards in the grass itself.
Lets take a look at the main safety hazards to be aware of during lawn mowing operations. These should form part of any lawn mower risk assessment, and steps should be taken to protect workers and members of the public from injury.
Debris in Grass
One of the main risks of using a mower is the ejection of debris. This can fly out and strike a nearby person.
A mower should have a protective skirt to help prevent this. But if the ground is bumpy, debris such as stones can still emerge at speed.
A mower also ejects more than ground debris. A badly maintained machine may throw out flails, blades or other parts. These can cause a very Serious Workplace Injury.
Blockages can be common. Its vital, though, never to remove a blockage while the mowers blades are moving. This warning may seem obvious; but accidents have occurred as a result of workers ignoring it.
Crushing and Overturning
Another major cause of accidents with mowers is crushing. Mowers sometimes fall on workers who are replacing the blades. Mowers also overturn on slopes, and can pin a worker under a fallen tractor or ride on mower.
Basic Lawn Mower Safety Precautions
There are a number of basic safety precations which should be undertaken to take account of the common safety hazards involved in lawn mowing.
These are the basic precautions a mowing operator should always take.
- First, ensure all guards fit properly. A very important safety guard is the protective skirt. The guards on an old mower may well slip or fall off completely. Dont use the mower until the guards and skirt are in place.
- Never leave the tractor until the engine is off. Also disengage the controls. The temptation to keep a tractor running while checking a problem with lawn mowing equipment can lead to serious injury.
- Before removing a blockage or performing a repair, support the mower properly. Make sure the support is sufficient to bear the mowers weight. Crush injuries are a very common safety hazard.
- Be cautious when mowing on a slope. The most dangerous point comes as an operator turns a tractor on inclined or uneven ground. Incautious operation of the machinery can lead to the tractor and mower overturning.
- Use protective gloves for blade changing and maintenance. This will reduce the risk of cuts.
- Dont work with a mower in the presence of bystanders. Debris may shoot out from the mower and cause serious harm.
- Dont approach a mower until the blades have stopped.
Finally, maintain the mower regularly, and use only approved replacement parts.